Fictional Dicks: Military Subordinates

10 Feb

Fictional Dicks is a feature that I have wanted to implement for some time, but I have just never been properly inspired to so.  However, while watching television today, I was struck by something that I’ve seen a million times before but never bothered to think about: military subordinates are dicks with no idea how to communicate with their superior officers.

When I say “subordinates,” I mean that in a completely relative sense.  Here’s the real problem.  How many times have you watched a tv show or movie where the following exchange has taken place:

Subordinate: “General, do you read me?”
General: “I read you. What’s the situation?”
Subordinate: “You’d better get up here.” [alternately: “You’re going to want to see this.”]

Yeah, Private.  Because God knows the General doesn’t have more important things to do than report to you with literally no explanation about what’s going on.  Do military leaders never do or see anything important unless some random subordinate tells them first?    I mean Jesus, how useless is that general if he is willing to come running at the beck and call of some random subordinate with absolutely no explanation?

“You’re going to want to see this.”  What the fuck does that mean?  I want to see a lot of things.  Is there a pony on a unicycle in the command center?  I’d sure as fuck want to see that, but it probably doesn’t help much with the fight situation.  Has some sort of superweapon appeared that will help us win the battle?  That seems unlikely, but it also seems to happen more often than not in sci-fi situations.  But if that were the case, would said subordinate not be better off simply saying “General, a superweapon has arrived that will almost certainly win us the battle!”  I’d sure as FUCK come running then!

"I'm going to want to see this?" Yeah, no, don't worry. I wasn't busy saving the planet or anything.

But I honestly think that “you’d better get up here” is even worse.  Really, Private? I’d “better” get up here?  Who the fuck do you think you are demanding my presence for (apparently) no reason whatsoever?  Did HQ call?  Am I being relieved of command?  Has the enemy broken though our lines?  Hell, it doesn’t even give any indication whether it’s positive or a negative.  It is EQUALLY LIKELY to mean that victory is imminent, that defeat is imminent, OR THAT SOMEONE DROPPED THE GENERAL’S BURRITO ON THE FLOOR.  I know it’s a little thing, but it grates on me, it really does.

Maybe what’s worse is that I have never seen a show in which a subordinate delivered one of those two lines, and the superior officer responded appropriately.  The APPROPRIATE response in this situation has to be something along the lines of “IF YOU DON’T GIVE ME A GOOD GODDAMN REASON FOR WHY YOU JUST CONTACTED ME, I WILL COME UP THERE, AND IT’LL BE TO STAB YOU IN THE HEART WITH MY FUCKING BAYONET.”  Or something along those lines, I’m really just paraphrasing.  Honestly, nothing drives me crazy like lazy dialogue, and those two lines are the epitome of it.  Throwaway lines designed to increase suspense for a few seconds, lazily written and reused in every military or science fiction thriller ever.

It’s stupid and I hope I never hear it again.  Any writer who has ever written those lines is a dick, and every fictional character who has delivered them should be drawn and quartered.


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